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Yearender soccer: Glory for Spain and Messi but problems never far away

Updated: 2012-12-25 16:33

Gold medals

The year's other big tournaments ended in a win for Zambia in January's African Nations Cup and gold medals for Mexico, shock winners over Brazil, and the United States women's team at the London Olympics.

While Real Madrid recaptured the title in Spain, mega-rich Manchester City ended an even longer wait in England, winning a thrilling Premier League title race with a victory secured in the final seconds of the final match to become champions for the first time in 44 years.

Yearender soccer: Glory for Spain and Messi but problems never far away

Zambia's national soccer team celebrate after winning the 2012 African Cup of Nations tournament final against Cote d'Ivoire at the Stade De L'Amitie Stadium in Gabon's capital Libreville, Feb 12, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]

City's Abu Dhabi owners have invested hundreds of millions of pounds in the club, a model being followed by the Qatari backers of Paris St Germain, with the French side now regarded as the wealthiest in the world.

The impact of UEFA's new Financial Fair Play rules, which require clubs to balance the books, will be keenly watched across the continent in the coming years to see if the likes of City and PSG can continue their spending.

But while money for now can go a long way in buying success, it can also lead to serious trouble if not accounted for properly as Rangers found in Scotland.

No club in the world has won more domestic titles than Rangers, who have been Scottish champions 54 times, but they now find themselves playing in the fourth and bottom tier of the league after effectively losing a battle with the taxman and being liquidated.

A re-birth has led to the new club playing among the minnows of Annan Athletic, East Stirling and Montrose.

Still if Rangers need any incentive for their redemption, they need only look to Italy's Juventus, who went unbeaten throughout the 2011-12 Serie A campaign to lift the title last May - just four seasons after returning from a match-fixing demotion to Serie B.

Related stories:

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Yearender 2012 golf: Celtic Tiger and emerging China shine in 2012

Yearender 2012 motor racing: Vettel takes triple in year of surprises

Yearender 2012 China sports: Li Na 'playing herself'

Yearender 2012 China sports: Chinese badminton makes history but overshadowed by match-fixing scandal

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